Health issues
and disc golf




Nature and health

For so many neighbors and visitors, McLaren Park is a big wondrous back yard, where they can wander and explore whenever they can, enjoying the natural beauty of their surroundings. Common sense as well as recent science suggests that time spent in nature leads to lower blood pressure and stress hormone levels, improved moods, and generally improved health.

McLaren Park has many long-established and compatible passive recreational uses in most of the areas proposed for the disc golf course. "Passive recreation area" is a legal term defined as follows:

A passive recreation area is an undeveloped space or environmentally sensitive area that requires minimal development. Entities such as a parks department may maintain passive recreation areas for the health and well-being of the public and for the preservation of wildlife and the environment. The quality of the environment and "naturalness" of an area is the focus of the recreational experience in a passive recreation area.

-- from



On the other hand, disc golf is ACTIVE recreation - it is group-oriented, competitive, requires infrastructure and by it's very nature encourages trampling and other destruction of the natural landscape. Thus, the imposition of a disc golf course would diminish the serenity and beauty that makes McLaren such a great location for “forest bathing”, hiking, photography, bird watching, meditation, and contemplation. This is a major reason that we claim disc golf is fundamentally incompatible with established uses of the park.

Trails and trail related experiences, such as nature observation, were identified as one of the most important facility needs by residents in San Francisco. In 2004, SFRPD developed a Recreation Assessment in order to evaluate community program and facility needs. As part of this assessment, a statistically significant number of households (over 1,000) were surveyed. Of the population surveyed, 24 percent stated they would participate in programs or activities that provided opportunities for visiting Natural Areas if more programming was available. This was the second highest percent of any of 26 activities identified in the survey following only running and walking (28 percent)…

-- From Significant Natural Areas Management Plan

It should be noted that disc golf was not even mentioned in this extensive and relatively recent report on recreation needs in the City. 

--Save McLaren Park

I am a cancer and heart attack survivor in my early fifties. I don't like the gym environment to keep fit but walking amongst nature gives me the motivation to get up every morning and take my hour and a half walk before beginning my working day.

--Lucia  Fontana June 18, 2010 from letter to RPC and other city officials

Nature and Health Podcasts from KQED

More Nature and Health Research

  • Phytoncides
  • Green space, urbanity, and health: how strong is the relation?
    This research from the Netherlands has shown that green space is more than just a luxury, and the development of green space should therefore be allocated a more central position in spatial planning policy. Healthy planning should include a place for green space and policy makers should take the amount of green space in the living environment into account when endeavoring to improve the health situation of the elderly, the youth, and lower socioeconomic status groups, especially in urban environments.
If my dog could talk, she would tell you how much she loves being able to run in the grass, play in the creek and under the canopy of trees.  It's one of the times she gets to be a dog and forget about concrete and leashes.  For me, it is also a time to forget about the urban environment, hike in the grassy hills, hear the sounds of birds and walk amongst the trees.  I do not want to see this lovely park and wildlife damaged by a disc golf course.

--Larisa Pedroncelli August 20, 2010 from letter to RPC and other city officials


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